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BEGC-105: American Literature

BEGC-105: American Literature

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022

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Assignment Code: BEGC-105 / TMA-01 / 2021 - 22

Course Code: BEGC-105

Assignment Name: American Literature

Year: 2021 - 2022

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Answer all questions.


Section A


Answer with reference to the context: (5×4=20)


Q 1. (i) They added ridge to valley, brook to pond

And signed for all that bounded their domain;

This suits me for a pasture; that’s my park;

We must have clay, lime, gravel, granite-ledge,

Ans) Ralph Waldo Emerson uses Imagery to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, Imagery is a literary device that refers to the use of figurative language to evoke a sensory experience or create a picture with words for a reader. By utilizing effective descriptive language and figures of speech, writers appeal to a reader’s senses of sight, taste, smell, touch, and sound, as well as internal emotion and feelings. Therefore, imagery is not limited to visual representations or mental images, but also includes physical sensations and internal emotions.


In this section of the second stanza, the poet says that humans created ridge to valley, brook to pond, and thought to redesign nature for the sake of their inner pleasure. Whatsoever, they spent the most of their lives thinking about useless matters such as which part of land best suited for a pasture or a park, where they could find clay, lime, gravel, granite-ledge, and misty lowland, and where they could go for peat.


Moreover, they desired to own the lands which were well-maintained and faced a specific direction. One of them said, “It is good when you have crossed the sea and back to find the sitfast acres where you left them.” The last few lines of this section throw light on the possessive nature of humankind.


Q 1. (ii) The Past!. the past! the past!

The Past-the dark unfathom’d retrospect!

The teeming gulf! the sleepers and the shadows!

The past-the infinite greatness of the part!

For what is the present after all but a growth

out of the past?

Ans) In the first stanza of Passage to India , before his travels begin, the speaker is describing joyously, the “achievements” of the present time. He is celebrating the “strong, light works of engineers” who are responsible for what he considers, “modern wonders” that outshine the seven ancient wonders of the world.


The three “wonders” that the speaker is so excited about are the “Suez Canal” in the “Old World” of Egypt, the “mighty railroad,” or the great American ailroad in the “New” world and finally the transatlantic cable that connected “the seas.”


The second stanza of this section celebrates the past for the part it played in spawning the present. It is described as “The teeming gulf, “the infinite greatness,” and as playing host to the “sleepers and the shadows.”


The past is mysterious in it’s own unknowable darkness and is nothing if not the place from which the present grows. The present is like a “projectile” that is sent into the future by the past, it continues on without end for all of time. There will always be a present moment spawned by the past.


Q 1. (iii) Because I could not stop for Death–

He kindly stopped for me–

The carriage held just ourselves

And Immortality.

Ans) ‘Because I could not stop for Death’ by Emily Dickinson depicts a speaker’s perception of death, the afterlife, and the journey it takes to get there.


In the first lines of the poem, the speaker uses the famous line “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me”. This phrase hints at the personification that is going to be utilized throughout the stanzas to describe the experience of entering the afterlife. Death stopped for the speaker and helped her into the carriage that held “just ourselves /And Immortality”.


But, of course, this ride comes about not because the woman wants it to, but because it is her time to die. She "could not stop for Death"—and, indeed, not many people would choose to do so—and so it is Death's responsibility to stop for her. The description of Death as "kindly" in line 2 suggests a gentlemanly figure, one who is going about his duty while behaving respectfully to those he picks up. It's notable, though, that as with the rest of the poem Death remains silent here. Death remains a mysterious, shadowy figure, even if he isn't presented as something fearsome and terrifying.


The woman climbs into Death's carriage and makes another mysterious observation. Describing those present within the vehicle, she mentions that other than herself and Death, "Immortality" is also present. This moment is highly ambiguous, perhaps deliberately so. It's not clear if, like Death, Immortality is a personified figure—and another silent type at that. Alternatively, immortality may just be present in a more abstract sense as part of the atmosphere of the carriage.


Q 1. (iv) Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread.

Walk the deck my captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

Ans) In the last stanza of ‘O Captain! My Captain!’, the sailor looks sadly at the dead captain in pure agony. He observes his lips to have paled a la that of a corpse. The captain fails to respond to his cries of helplessness. The liveliness from the captain’s face has drained now. His pulse has stopped and he’s unlikely to move from now on. The ship has landed safely in the harbor with its anchor thrown in. The voyage is now complete. The sailor reminisces about the trip to be extremely arduous yet they crossed the line with a trade-off.


The concluding lines of the poem explicate the fact that the sailor has some bad news to share with the awaiting crowd. He appeals directly to the loud jeers, cheers, and ringing bells for the much-awaited captain. Again, the poet uses synecdoche to represent the entire American audience at large as the poem relates to the death of Abraham Lincoln. The sailor feels uncomfortable as he needs to relay the bad news to the populace at large, as the victory celebrations come to a standstill eventually.


The speaker says the shores, by which he means the crowds on the shore, should exult or celebrate and ring the church bells because the ship has won an important battle.

The speaker is contrasting the joy he feels—and knows the people on shore feel—about the victory with the great grief he feels that the battle has cost the captain his life. The speaker is caught in an emotional turmoil, torn between his joy at the victory and his distress over the death of his leader. The ecstasy the narrator experiences, emphasized with the exclamation point and the repeated exclamatory "O," is juxtaposed against the shock he carries in his body that leads him walk with a "mournful tread."


Section B


Answer the following in about 300 words each: (5X4=20)


Q 1. What aspect of death does the poet Emily Dickinson highlight in her poems?

Ans) In a unique way, the poem deals with death and immortality. It is frequently referred to as "The Chariot," a title that alludes to the poem's fundamental idea of a chariot ride with death, as well as the nice gentleman caller who arrives to take the poet for a ride. Death's arrival is depicted in the poem as a casual occurrence. It starts out pretty suddenly, with death represented as a courteous guy arriving unexpectedly. Immortality, another traveller, has arrived. Because the soul is everlasting, it can be thought of as a voyage into eternity.


Death is depicted as a gentleman who has graciously stopped to take the poet on a carriage ride. The adjective "kindly" describes the poet's relationship with death. The presence of Immortality, Death's companion, alleviates the loneliness of the voyage with Death. It also has a theological component, as death is seen as the gateway to immortality in religious beliefs. Death's horror is reduced, though, when it is shown as a gallant suitor taking a lady out for a ride. He's on a humane quest to rescue her from the world's ills.


In the second stanza, the poet's relationship with Death is better defined. It's an easygoing, uncomplicated connection. Death isn't in a rush; the poet says he "knew no haste." Death exudes a relaxed, familiar intimacy that the poet finds comforting. The poet bids the world farewell. Though, like most others, she is too absorbed with life to wait for death, she does leave her labour and leisure, that is, her worldly interests and belongings. The carriage's unhurried journey foreshadows the slow–moving hearse on its way to the cemetery.


Q 2. Examine and elucidate the three pillory scenes in The Scarlet Letter.

Ans) The Scarlet Letter's three scaffold scenes are crucial to the story's structure and cohesion. These moments are at the heart of Hawthorne's tale of rime and retribution, both artistically and dramatically.


In the first scaffold scene, a beautiful young woman stands on a raised platform confronting a hostile crowd in silence and pride, a young woman who has come alone to the New World where circumstances have divided her from the community now gathered – a young woman who has come alone to the New World where circumstances have divided her from the community now gathered –


Arthur Dimmesdale mounts the platform in a half-hearted attempt to confess his sin in the second scaffold scene, which takes place exactly in the middle of the storey. After the young priest has kept his vigil on a dark night, this is performed. This moment is described by Hawthorne as a "mockery of penitence" and "a vain show of expiation." When Hester, along with Pearl, mounts the platform to stand alongside Dimmesdale, the scarlet letter is highlighted once more, this time by emphasising Dimmesdale's fixation with his own guilt. He feels like the entire world is looking at the scarlet letter over his heart as he stands on the scaffold. Governor Bellingham and Mistress Hlibbins are both awakened by his shriek, but neither of them notices him on the scaffold. Returning from Governor Winthrop's deathbed, the reverend Mr. Wilson passes past the scaffold without recognising Dimmesdale.


The drama ends with the last scaffold scene. Hawthorne foreshadows this moment by focusing our attention on Hester's scarlet letter, which has become a common sight in town. It's Election Day, a public holiday, and many outsiders have gathered in the market area to observe the procession of the town's honourable citizens. People swarm around her, their gaze riveted on her cleavage. There are also some sailors and Indians in the crowd. Their strange stare causes a searing sensation in Hester's breast, and the scarlet letter pierces her breast more painfully than ever before.


In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses a profound and enormous association of storey, character, symbol, and event to culminate around each of the three scaffold scenes. All three scenes are interconnected and contribute to the novel's overall cohesiveness.


Q 3. Write a critical appreciation of the poem BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH.

Ans) Death and Immortality, two common topics in Emily Dickinson's poetry, are addressed in this poem. Death is viewed in the poem as a part of everyday existence, rather than as something strange and sublime. The poet has a sharp perception, which shows in the accuracy with which she selects images. Death is depicted as a gentleman who has graciously stopped to take the poet on a carriage ride. The adjective "kindly" describes the poet's relationship with death. The presence of Immortality, Death's companion, alleviates the loneliness of the voyage with Death. It also has a theological component, as death is seen as the gateway to immortality in religious beliefs. Death's horror is reduced, though, when it is shown as a gallant suitor taking a lady out for a ride. He's on a humane quest to rescue her from the world's ills.


The poem is faultless in its use of exact and discrete images that support the dominant picture of Death riding in a chariot. The chariot, on the other hand, keeps moving on towards the enigmatic land of eternity. Death is made palatable by civilising and familiarising herself with it. Death is viewed from a variety of perspectives throughout the poem. It's a pleasant break from the stresses of life, and the poet is looking forward to a relaxing journey with it. It increases one's sense of well-being, and the poet is willing to forego her work and leisure as a result. It takes you to a better place beyond time and space, free of the pains and tragedies of everyday life. Death is thus portrayed by the poet as a solemn guide who leads man to immortality.


Q 4. How did Henrik Ibsen contribute to the growth of modern American Drama?

Ans) Henrik Ibsen is a Norwegian writer widely regarded as the father of contemporary prose drama.


Following the Civil War, drama shifted to realism, exposing the scene of everyday life, critiquing societal conditions, and creating believable characters. The playwright focused on middle-class lives and preoccupations, disregarding larger and more dramatic problems, in order to give a true picture of life. Three-dimensional settings were used in the scenes, and the actors delivered natural-sounding conversation. While melodramatic narratives dominated, playwrights influenced by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright, gradually gravitated towards psychological realism.


Ibsen pioneered innovative approaches to drama. He is acknowledged for being "the first major dramatist to create tragedy about ordinary people in prose," according to Drabble.? He "demanded and achieved a new type of performance" because of the character of his conversation and his rejection of traditional theatrical inspirations.


Burt believes that Ibsen was successful in attaining "a magnificent dramatic understanding of human experience while establishing the ground for modern play in both its realism and symbolism" through his "vast aesthetic range." Although many of his plays begin with an assessment of modern social problems, such as “the narrowness of small-town life, the consuming force of commercialism, and the insufficiency of religious beliefs,” they are not limited to or confined by a narrow social analysis, as Burt puts it. Ibsen's social depiction, on the other hand, becomes an opportunity for "a deeper penetration, from symptoms to reasons that dwell in human nature itself."


In the twentieth century, realism remained the dominant mode of dramatic expression, and as the century proceeded, many outstanding new dramatists emerged to address wide problems such as civil rights and the destruction wreaked by the AIDS pandemic. Blockbuster musicals destroyed new commercial theatre in the United States in the mid-1990s and early twenty-first century, attracting a younger audience who preferred films, television, and computer entertainment. Many playwrights began writing plays with the intention of being adapted for cinema or television in order to reach a wider audience, resulting in the American theatre being specialised in this genre.



Section C


Answer any three of the following questions in about 600 words each: 4X15=60


Q 1. Examine the growth of American drama during the seventeen, Eighteen and nineteenth centuries.

Ans) Little theatrical activity took place before the mid-18th century because the early settlers of American colonies faced harsh living conditions after migrating to this alien land.


Beginnings of American Drama: 1700s

After much deliberation, colleges in numerous colonies in the 17th century authorised theatrical activity, believing that it would help students use their speech talents in occupations such as business and law. Before more plays were written, a group of British professional actors organised a touring circuit in the 1750s, which became known as The American Company in the early 1760s. In 1767, they performed Thomas Godfrey's tragedy The Prince of Parthia, the first professional production of a play written in America. Robert Taylor was the first American playwright to compose The Contrast, the finest American play of the 18th century (1787). This five-act play satirises upper-class conventions and is written in the British comedy format, owing much to Sheridan's The School for Scandal (1777).


American Drama: 1800s

Melodrama, the most popular theatrical form in the nineteenth century, was developed by William Dunlop in his plays. The focus of American drama shifts from a nationalistic purpose to the aesthetic qualities of romanticism in the early nineteenth century. Edwin Forrest, a well-known actor, promoted the creation of American love plays. Franeesca da Rimini (1855), a romantic poetry presented by George Henry Boker, was the best American drama at the time. Other American Romantic tragedies that solely promoted the aesthetic values of romanticism without forwarding the cause of the American Drama include John Howard Payne's Brutus: The Fall of Taraquin (1819) and Robert Montogomery Bird's The Gladiator (1831). Edwin Forrest began awarding annual prizes for new plays with American themes in 1828, and Metamora was the first to receive one.


The focus of American drama shifts from a nationalistic purpose to the aesthetic qualities of romanticism in the early nineteenth century. Edwin Forrest, a well-known actor, promoted the creation of American love plays. In 1828, Edwin Forrest established an annual award for new plays with American themes, and Metamora was the first to receive the honour. There was no single sort of drama that appealed to the American public; audiences were open to any new variety that the actors could do adequately. The mocking of the Indian Plays foreshadowed their decreasing popularity, and by the mid-century period, they had all but vanished. In Harriet Beecher Stone's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, racial, social, and economic conflicts in America that led to the Civil War are vividly depicted. G. L. Aiken's theatrical adaptation of the novel was a huge hit, being produced all throughout America and lasting long into the twentieth century.


American Drama in the Nineteenth Century

Melodrama was the most popular dramatic genre in the nineteenth century. In Hindi movie, a callous villain torments the heroine, who is eventually saved by a powerful hero in the nick of time after overcoming great hurdles. Melodrama deals with themes of family, social status, and riches, which affect everyone. ‘Its appeal to the general audience was based on stereotyped, instantly recognisable character types and basic, formulaic narratives that could be easily altered to any setting, character, or event.' (Browne and Kreiser, American Popular Culture Through History: The Civil War and Reconstruction)


The versatility of these plays allowed them to be easily adapted to any type of audience, allowing actors to express themselves freely while utilising a wide range of resources. Boucicault's The Poor of New York (1857), Daly's Under the Gaslight (1857), and Belasco's The Girl of the Golden West and The Heart of Maryland are also popular pieces in this genre (1857). The popularity of the melodramatic form, which began in the 18th century, lasted into the 19th.


Q 2. Why All My Sons is considered a tragedy?

Ans) The main tragedies in this drama are Joe Keller's heinous crime of murdering several pilots, which included the tragic murder of his son. This is a realisation Keller comes to quickly, and it unavoidably leads to his suicide. Despite the fact that Joe Keller was a family guy, he had deceived not only his family and himself, but also the people around him. He'd created so much deception and pain that he couldn't stand the sight of blood on his hands any longer.


Joe Keller was once a poor man, a poor man with a tremendous dream, regardless of his actions. In some respects, he is a shining example of what it means to achieve the American Dream. Despite this, when he reached the pinnacle of his career, he continued to be obsessed with money. He eventually became power-hungry, a guy consumed by the mere concept of money and commerce. He went on to murder scores of people and profited on the war's death and destruction by using it as a pretext to make more money.


Both Keller men have short tempers, which adds to the game's angst, worry, and pressure. Chris had always admired and admired his father, seeing him as the lone provider, protector, and hero in his life. Joe Keller, in Chris' opinion, battled the courts to prove his "innocence." However, deception lurks in the shadows of all of this when family friend Steve Deever is sentenced to prison for a horrible crime he did not commit; rather, he was sentenced for something Joe Keller committed.


Joe Keller is denial about the situation in many ways. He worked so hard to prove his alleged innocence that he almost persuaded himself and his wife Kate that he did nothing wrong and was innocent. Keller would be unable to live with himself if Chris discovered the truth. Keller would almost never have considered murdering one son and then losing the other. He was frightened of losing not only his corporate empire, but also his life savings. His only other son, on the other hand, loves and respects him.


Chris and Joe's relationship deteriorated in every manner, and this is the central tragedy in some ways, a father who loses two sons due to his own sins and avarice. Joe and Chris Keller's relationship is complex throughout; as father and son, they laugh and butt heads from time to time. Chris, on the other hand, is completely taken aback when he learns of his father's dark past. Not only has this monster murdered scores of pilots, but he has also murdered his own son and imprisoned an innocent man. As this awful truth began to seep into Chris's consciousness, no matter what Keller had to say for himself, it became irrelevant to Chris. “It isn't enough to apologise.”


To summarise, Chris and Joe Keller's friendship plays a significant role in the play's core tragedies. It demonstrates that just because two people are related and share the same blood does not ensure they will get along. Chris looked up to his "hero" father for years, but towards the end of the play, Chris's disappointment, distaste, and nearly hatred for Keller is palpable. He was, after all, my son. But I believe they were all my sons to him. I suppose they were; I suppose they were.” This leads to the play's last tragedy: Keller's untimely suicide.


Q 3. Describe Puritan psychology and state how this has left an imprint on the modern American character.

Ans) The Human is essentially a fallen creature in the Puritan mind. The human was justly condemned after the Fall, when Adam and Eve rejected God's will by eating the forbidden fruit. However, God has chosen some (the Elect) for salvation through Grace by chance. Faith, rather than outward activities, is required for salvation. The world is built on dramatic contrasts like as good vs. evil, mad vs. god, elect vs. fallen, faith vs. deeds, and so on. Because the fallen man's perception has been tainted, he is unable to discern God's will in nature. Every person is consequently locked in his or her own unique perception of the world, which is an enigma or mystery to him or her as a result of the fall. The older Church dealt with the problem of human vision corruption by referring to the Pope's and the Church's infallibility. Puritans, on the other hand, denied both and spoke of a community of the chosen (the Elect). The community of these "seen saints'" overall view was thought to reflect God's desire. As a result, the Puritans exerted a strong influence on the community's members to achieve consensus and uniformity.


When the Puritans came in America, they began to consider themselves as modern-day Jews fleeing oppression for a country of liberty. The Puritans were the modern-day Jews fleeing from England to this new promised land of America, just as the Jews, God's chosen people, fled from Egypt, where they were persecuted, to the promised land of Canaan in the Old Testament. Everything was part of the divine plan. It was up to them now that they were in their own ‘Canaan' to build a city on a hill in God's honour. This was their life's mission.


Puritan principles influenced American society in both beneficial and harmful ways, and they continue to do so today. The Puritan community gave birth to the American concept of limited government. Puritans thought that the government should not be ruled by a single person or group of individuals. Because of the Puritan emphasis on education, everyone in America is taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. Finally, the Puritan virtues of honesty, accountability, hard labour, and self-control have been adopted by many Americans.


Puritans played a significant role in American history, but beyond the seventeenth century, they had little influence on American civilization. Despite the fact that the Puritans came to the New World in quest of religious tolerance, a fundamental human right for which the United States is famous, they refused to tolerate those who did not share their convictions. The Puritans did not invent the sort of democracy that the American government employs today. Our political system has its origins in British institutions. Finally, rather than the Puritan religion, many Americans today embrace a code of ethics that originated with the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian faiths.


In his flattering report on America, John Smith characterised it as if it were the lost paradise. Dissatisfied with the Church of England and suffering from economic and religious restrictions in England, these early settlers believed they had been selected by God to re-establish Christianity in all its purity in the new world. In his sermon on board the ship Arabella, John Winthrop told his fellow passengers that the world's eyes were on them and their mission of constructing a city of God on a hill, and that if they failed, they would become the laughingstock of history.


Q 4. Discuss the major concerns of Hemingway in his short stories and the formal strategies he often adopts in highlighting them.

Ans) Hemingway the artist appears to be criticising the real-life Hemingway, who is egotistical and self-aggrandizing, and tends to echo Melville's famous phrase: "the clash of principles spins against the way it drives." Stories of the ultimate nothingness, of an overwhelming and all-encompassing nada, however, are in a class of their own, drawing attention to a "God-abandoned universe," a world with nothing at its centre. The characters in these stories are resigned to a variety of losses and doom. discover themselves "not in His (God's) Kingdom" (soldier's Home), are irreversibly landed in highly hostile situations («In Another Country») and are gradually deprived of the few redeeming patches of sunlight in the midst of the surrounding gloom («A Clean Well-Lighted Place»). These are ultimately tales of complete surrender to a life devoid of hope, a life devoid of meaning.


In contrast, the protagonists of courage are depicted in stories of celebration, of triumphant ideals in the face of violent death. These heroes will face and overcome life's most difficult trials, putting in a supreme all-out effort to accomplish whatever they hold dearest to their hearts, and in a sense, achieving it in death. When thrust into a difficult circumstance, a Macomber, for example, reclaims his identity as a big-game hunter (“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”), a Haw his as a writer (“The Snows of Kilimanjaro”), and a Manuel his as a bullfighter (“The Undefeated”). These characters' suffering and death, on the other hand, are not caused by some proverbial fatal fault, nor by any particular set of circumstances conspiring against them; nor are they caused by any hidden cause or upheaval in the moral order. These people's harsh and unavoidable misery is simply a condition of their lives, if only because they refuse to be broken by the world, and in Hemingway's scheme of things, people who refuse to be broken must be slain. According to J.J. Benson, "in Hemingway's writings, commitment leads to calamity; and entire commitment leads to complete disaster." Nonetheless, their dignified acceptance of mortality and gallantry in the face of grief and death are "bracing rather than dispiriting," affirming the principle of life's potential and how man can best acquit himself as man.


R.R.Weeks, a critic, observes Hemingway's themes and concerns. “a small number of characters, all set in comparable situations and compared to a fixed code.” Furthermore, such personalities are mostly solitary and expats, cut off from their family, neighbourhood, culture, and country, and engage almost entirely in outdoor activities. As a result, Hemingway's creative investigations are limited in depth and range since they relate to "no past. no traditions. no recollections" and reflect no awareness of "religion. morals, politics. culture o; history." Significant aspects of human experience are thus closed off to Hemingway readers; nonetheless, while "we may mourn Herningway's exclusive celebration of brute comage," we "question if it is literary criticism to do so." In his statement, Harry Levin elegantly summarises the power and limitations of Hemingway's thematic achievement: "That he has achieved within Limits, but with some strain, is less important than that he has succeeded in capturing a few more aspects of life for writing." In this light, Hemingway's theme(s) more than justify their validity and stand out in the same way that they stand out.

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